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The 5 things you need to know about 5G

(Source: Getty)

The next generation of mobile technology has arrived on Australian shores, and likely in your local area. So far, Telstra and Optus have switched on 5G in limited areas, and Vodafone’s 5G network set to go live this year.

But what is this new technology everyone’s talking about? Yahoo Finance breaks it down. Here are the most essential things you need to know about 5G:

1. What is 5G?

5G is the next generation of mobile broadband that will eventually replace 4G.

The mobile technology brings with it super-fast data speed and more reliable connections, and is able to handle more data and users than 3G and 4G.

The hype around 5G is that it’s slated to hail a new era of interconnectedness that will deliver services that we haven’t even conceived of yet.

“We see 5G as technology as transformative as the automobile and electricity,” stated a post on US telco Qualcomm’s website.

2. How will 5G change our lives?

You’ll see much faster download and upload speeds, meaning streaming videos, Netflix, and live-streaming is set to become a whole lot faster. Buffering times would reduce down to none, and downloading a high-definition film would take you just a minute or so.

It’s also better able to handle a whole host of new ‘smart’ technologies using the super-fast mobile internet connection at the same time, giving rise to all sorts of tech in sectors as diverse as education, transport, entertainment, retail, agriculture, manufacturing and education that can be connected to the internet.

It does mean, though, that you’ll need to get a new 5G-compatible smartphone device to access the new network.

3. 5G speed: How much faster is 5G?

Networks are expected to be a whopping 100 times faster than 4G networks.

According to How-To Geek, 4G’s limit is 100 megabytes per second, but 5G theoretically tops out at 10 gigabits per second (one gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes).

So downloading a two-hour movie would take 3.6 seconds on 5G, compared to six minutes on 4G.

4. Where is 5G in Australia?

So far, Telstra and Optus have rolled out 5G in some selected areas in the country.

Here’s where Telstra has rolled out 5G coverage, and where Optus has rolled out 5G

These are the phones that are 5G-compatible:

  • Samsung Galaxy A90 5G

  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G

  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

  • LG V50 Thinq 5G

  • OPPO Reno 5G

5. 5G health risks: Do I need to be worried?

Like every generation of cellular technology, 5G uses signals carried by radio waves. We’re surrounded by this electromagnetic radiation everywhere, from TV to radio.

5G will use higher frequency waves to power its faster speed, and these waves travel shorter distances, meaning there will need to be more 5G networks than previous generations of mobile technology.

However, though there will be more 5G stations, radio waves actually become safer at higher frequencies, not more dangerous.

Each 5G station will run at lower power levels than 4G technology, meaning a lower level of radiation exposure.

Additionally, the radio waves are ‘non-ionising’, meaning it doesn’t have the power to break apart DNA and cause damage, physicist and cancer researcher David Robert Grimes told BBC.

On the electromagnetic spectrum, visible light, UV-rays, medical X-rays and gamma rays are way more damaging.

“People are understandably concerned over whether they might elevate their risk of cancer, but it's crucial to note that radio waves are far less energetic than even the visible light we experience every day,” Grimes said.

“There is no reputable evidence … that mobile phones or wireless networks have caused us health problems.”

According to the New York Times, fears about the health risks of wireless technology can be traced back to one scientist and one chart that was later proved to be flawed.